Hey, Midway, don't freak. It's just an exercise.
This week, all manner of National Guard troops, police, firefighters and other first responders will be on the campus of Midway College. They'll be going through mock scenarios similar to the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech or an escalating terrorist event.
More than 80 Guard troops and 170 personnel from state and local agencies will participate. The FBI also will be represented.
"It's pretty huge," said Officer Pat Melton of the Versailles Police Department.
The event is designed to train Army and Air Guard troops, civilian emergency managers and others on the procedures necessary to respond to real-life tragedies.
"Especially with the World Equestrian Games coming, what a great time to see what your capabilities are and what your weaknesses are," Melton said.
Staff and students of Midway College will be involved, too, as will first responder teams from Lexington, Versailles and elsewhere.
Wednesday's scenario will be a Virginia Tech-like shooting, said Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht of the Kentucky National Guard.
"Thursday's scenario is, how would you react if there was somebody who had a pipe bomb, or something bigger than just a sniper?" Hilbrecht said.
The exercise will allow officials to respond to a campus shooter who sets off a dirty bomb in a crowded area. That will allow responders to see how to decontaminate large numbers of people.
In addition, as part of a week-long statewide exercise, responders will consider how they would react to a worldwide influenza pandemic, such as the swine flu, in which local residents die, said Keith Slugantz, emergency management coordinator for Woodford County.
"We're planning and practicing for worst-case scenarios," Slugantz said.
With its peaceful setting in the heart of horse country, Midway might seem an odd place to render all this hypothetical havoc.
But Midway College was chosen as the exercise site in part because it offers a bachelor of arts degree in Homeland Security Corporate Management and Assessment, the first of its kind in Kentucky.
"Our students will gain invaluable knowledge through this experience," Midway College President William B. Drake Jr. said in a National Guard news release.
The industrial park off Interstate 64 and north of town will also be used as a staging area for the different groups arriving in Midway.
For information about the exercise, go to www.kentuckyguard.com/midway.